The Times of Israel – 2013-09-15 01:04:42
TEL EVIV (September 15, 2013) — Israel possesses a stockpile of 80 nuclear warheads, all of which were produced by 2004, when Israel froze all production, according to a report published over the weekend. The report, in the September/October issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, cited US Defense Intelligence Agency figures.
Israel began to produce chemical warheads in 1967 and gradually built up its arsenal, producing between two and three warheads each year until it amassed 80 warheads in 2004. The report did not say why Israel had ceased production, although it noted that the Jewish state is estimated to have produced enough fissile material for 115 to 190 warheads.
Israel’s nuclear program has long been shrouded in secrecy, with the country maintaining a policy of ambiguity while refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Previous estimates have put the number of warheads in Israel’s possession at up to 400. According to foreign reports, Israel’s military has the capacity to deliver a nuclear payload via a variety of methods, including ballistic missiles, aircraft, and submarine-launched cruise missiles.
The 80-warhead figure — fewer than once thought, and lower than the nuclear arsenal of countries that are officially in possession of atomic weapons — was cited in June in a 2013 yearbook put out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading think tank on global security issues.
Of those warheads, 50 are for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are for bombs carried by aircraft, the report said. In addition, “Israel may also have produced non-strategic nuclear weapons, including artillery shells and atomic demolition munitions,” the Guardian reported.
In 1986, based on information supplied by ex-Dimona nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, later convicted of treason, the Sunday Times of London estimated that Israel had produced more than 100 nuclear warheads.
According to the new report, despite conducting several tests North Korea has yet to develop a serviceable atomic warhead. The report put the number of nuclear warheads in the hands of world powers, in descending order, at 4,650 possessed by the US, 4,480 by Russia, 300 by France, 250 by China, 225 by the UK, 120 by Pakistan, 110 by India, and 80 by Israel.
The total number of serviceable atomic warheads in the world is 10,215, the report said, down from as high as 64,449 at the height of the Cold War in 1986.
Nuclear states developing new weapons in defiance of treaty, report claims
Richard Norton-Taylor / The Guardian
(June 2, 2013) — All five legally recognised nuclear states as defined by the non-proliferation treaty — China, France, Russia, the UK and US — are either deploying new nuclear weapons and delivery systems or plan to do so, according to a leading international research organisation.
The countries “appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely”, says the latest yearbook published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
At the start of 2013, eight states — the US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel — possessed approximately 4,400 operational nuclear weapons. Nearly 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possess a total of approximately 17,265 nuclear weapons, says the Sipri report.
Signatories of the non-proliferation treaty, including the UK, pledge to work towards nuclear disarmament.
“Once again there was little to inspire hope that the nuclear-weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals. The long-term modernisation programmes under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power,” said the Sipri senior researcher Shannon Kile.
Of the five “official” nuclear states, China appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal while India and Pakistan are expanding both their nuclear weapon stockpiles and their missile delivery capabilities, Sipri says. Pakistan is also expanding its main plutonium-production complex at Khushab, Punjab.
Sipri estimates that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, 50 for its Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 for gravity bombs carried by aircraft. Israel may also have produced non-strategic nuclear weapons, including artillery shells and atomic demolition munitions, says the yearbook.
It estimates world military expenditure in 2012 to have been $1.756 trillion (Â£1.157trillion), representing 2.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP) — or $249 for each person in the world. Though a little lower than the previous two years, the total is higher than in any year between the end of the second World War and 2010.
The distribution of global spending in 2012 shows a shift from the west to other parts of the world, including the Middle East and north Africa, eastern Europe and the developing world.
The international arms trade in major conventional weapons grew by 17% between 2003 and 2012. The five largest suppliers over the past five years — the US, Russia, Germany, France and China — accounted for 75% of all conventional arms exports.
China may represent “the vanguard of an increase in the significance of Asian suppliers in the international arms trade, as South Korea is an emerging arms supplier and Japan and Singapore have potential to become major suppliers”, says Sipri.
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